‘We were looking for a gun’: Suspended athletic director defends his actions

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — An athletic director at a local high school starts his suspension after he said he got guns off of school grounds during a violent fight.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones spoke with Coach Kenneth Miller, athletic director at Tri-Cities High in East Point.

Miller said he was trying to stop a shooting and that he got guns off of the campus, but the school’s superintendent upheld Miller’s suspension because of the fight.

A violent gang fight broke out at Tri-Cities High School last August. Miller said he first smelled marijuana in a student’s book bag, and that’s when he found the first gun. He then discovered that another student had a gun. Miller said he confronted the student, looking for the gun.

“At that point the student becomes belligerent, irate, she’s cursing,” Miller said.

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An officer’s bodycam recorded the student slapping Miller’s hand and knocking a phone out of it. That’s when Miller reacted. He said he grabbed her in an attempt to restrain her and defend himself, but she knocked him into a bookshelf.

The school system says an independent hearing officer felt that a 20-day suspension was warranted and the superintendent agreed.

Fulton Schools Superintendent Mike Looney let Miller know he agreed with a hearing officer that Miller was insubordinate, willfully neglected his duties, and his conduct was detrimental when he grabbed the student.

Miller said the ruling makes no sense.

“We took loaded guns off the campus,” Miller said.

He said nobody ever searched the student for a gun.

“We were looking for a gun. We were questioning her about a gun,” Miller said.

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The hearing officer found there were no guns in the room when Miller grabbed the student.

Miller’s attorney, Allen Lightcap, said the district initially scheduled a hearing in front of unbiased former educators to fire Miller, but the district suddenly halted that hearing and decided on a suspension where there were no witnesses.

He think he knows why that hearing was halted.

“Every single witness that looked at this case supported Coach Miller,” Lightcap said.

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He said even the Professional Standards Commission found Miller did nothing wrong. Miller said the superintendent’s decision put educators between a rock and hard place.

“Its difficult to be second guessed ... to be subject to discipline,” Miller said. “Everybody made it home safe that day.”

Miller’s 20-day suspension without pay started April 11.

He said he is considering a lawsuits and he’s asking people who disagree with the superintendent’s decision to contact the school district to share their thoughts.

When asked what happens after the 20 days are up, Miller said he’s doesn’t really know, but he wants to go back to his job and his alma mater.

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